So, where is the “tipping” point here? How many wine related businesses exist on the Square and streets within a block of it? How many wine related businesses are there within the city limits? And to what do they contribute? – recreational drinking (for good or bad) and the city coffers.

teen behind empty wine bottles

Did you know that, according to the latest California Healthy Kids Survey for Sonoma County, 54% of 11nth graders have admitted to using alcohol at least once in their lifetime? By contrast, 43% of 11nth graders have admitted to using cannabis for the same period.

Let’s look at the figures for the Sonoma Unified School District, even closer to home. 58% of 11nth graders have admitted to using alcohol at least once in their lifetime and 43% have used cannabis in the same period. County-wide, significantly more teens are drinking alcohol than using cannabis. And the percentage of teens drinking alcohol locally is even higher, yet cannabis use remains the same locally as across the county.

Let’s also consider that from 2011 to 2016, the numbers of Sonoma Unified 11nth graders who have used cannabis at least once in their lifetime has dropped from 49% to 43%.

Is that an aberration? What about other states? The 2016 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey reveals that cannabis usage rates for 8th, 10th, and 12th graders have remained basically unchanged for the past decade. These findings further confirm data coming from Colorado and Oregon, as well. After legalization in those states, the number of students who used or who had ever tried cannabis has tended to remain stable.

And what about alcohol? The CDC reports that more than 37,000 annual U.S. deaths are attributed to alcohol use alone. Health-related costs for alcohol consumers are eight times greater than those for cannabis consumers, according to an assessment recently published in the British Columbia Mental Health and Addictions Journal. Alcohol is more addictive than cannabis. Its use increases the risk of injury to oneself or others. Research published in 2011 in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research found that 36% of hospitalized assaults and 21% of all injuries are attributable to alcohol use by the injured person. Meanwhile, the American Journal of Emergency Medicine reported that lifetime use of cannabis is rarely associated with emergency room visits.

Cannabis is statistically less harmful than alcohol, and it’s time to treat it that way. There is absolutely *no* good argument for why the voters of the city of Sonoma should be denied local access to a medicinal cannabis dispensary.